Centre College has been named one of the top religiously affiliated colleges in the nation by Forbes, coming in at #18 on a list of 25 colleges and universities that also includes Notre Dame, Davidson, Duke, Emory, Macalester, Sewanee and Rhodes.
The ranking is drawn from Forbes’ recent list of America’s Top Colleges. As the article accompanying the list explains, “of the best-ranked 130 schools in the U.S., 25 are Christian.”
Five other schools on Forbes’ list are, like Centre, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), including Rhodes, Trinity, Macalester, Lafayette and Davidson. The religious affiliations of many of the schools on the list are also historic in nature, with the average founding year of all 25 schools coming in at 1857. Centre was founded in 1819, making it one of 17 colleges on the list founded before the Civil War came to an end.
The National Center for Education recognizes nearly 800 institutions of higher education in the United States as being religiously affiliated with a specific denomination.
As the Forbes ranking notes, Centre embraces its historic ties to the Presbyterian denomination while also welcoming all faiths and religious studies on campus, fostering a strong sense of community, civility and acceptance. The Religious Life Office spearheads this effort, leading a weekly worship service in the Taize style and encouraging members of the Centre community to maintain a respectful campus environment for all.
Students of many faiths participate in religious life at Centre. Approximately 25 different religious denominations are identified on campus, many of them represented in such student-led organizations as Baptist Campus Ministries, Centre Christian Fellowship, Centre Sangha, Jewish Student Organization, Meditation Centre, Muslim Student Association, Newman Club and Thinking about Faith. These groups come together with CentreFaith, an interfaith group that fosters dialogue and understanding between different traditions and denominations.
Explorations of religion are equally important in the classroom. While Centre’s curriculum and general educational environment are not distinctly Presbyterian in nature, the study of religion is required for all students. As part of the General Education curriculum, students choose two “Fundamental Questions” religion courses to take, ranging from introductory courses in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism to more in-depth classes such as Biblical History and Ideas, Western Religious Traditions and Eastern Religious Traditions.
The global lens Centre’s religion courses offer is often directly applied as students experience those religious cultures and traditions while studying abroad. Past religious study abroad options have included traveling the ancient Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route in Spain, studying India’s various religious traditions on the ground, exploring the exploring the largest religious monument in the world at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and examining how religion and politics intertwine in Rwanda and Uganda.
Centre was recognized earlier in 2016 as one of the top religious colleges in the U.S. by StartClass.com, coming in at #17 on that list. Additionally, Centre was also included in Forbes’ recent annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges,” named #5 in the South among liberal arts colleges and #18 among all Southern colleges and universities.
Forbes named Centre #3 in the South in its first-ever “Best Value Colleges” list and #27 among all liberal arts colleges in the nation.
by Elizabeth Trollinger
July 21, 2016